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Betelgeuse


Wjolcz
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I know why nobody made a Betelgeuse thread yet: we are all pretty sure this unusual dip in brightness won't end with a firework show. However, I still think it's pretty interesting and a bit mysterious (but then it's probably the result of two dipping cycles' minimums overlapping), so I decided to share a couple of things with you.

Here's a twitter bot with daily updates:

https://mobile.twitter.com/betelbot?ref_src=twsrc^tfw|twcamp^tweetembed&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fd-1791624860461792108.ampproject.net%2F2001251659540%2Fframe.html

And here's a prediction:

 

Edited by Wjolcz
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I wonder... Astronomers have been observing fluctuations of Betelgeuse's brightness for at least couple of hundreds of years. Yet this one minimum is something new - something unobserved before.

Could it indicate growing instability of the star? Maybe we are witnessing beginnings of agony... which can still last for couple hundreds of years ;)

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On 2/3/2020 at 11:54 PM, Scotius said:

I wonder... Astronomers have been observing fluctuations of Betelgeuse's brightness for at least couple of hundreds of years. Yet this one minimum is something new - something unobserved before.

Could it indicate growing instability of the star? Maybe we are witnessing beginnings of agony... which can still last for couple hundreds of years ;)

That's actually one thing I've been thinking about too. The cycles must've overlapped some time in the past and some civilization must've had noticed that. The star is visibly dimmer right now. If we can clearly see it without any special equipment then pretty much every astronomer/astrologist would do too, yet there is no evidence.

Edited by Wjolcz
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17 minutes ago, Wjolcz said:

If that's the case then maybe some ancient civilization recorded that event.

probably the greeks, or the chinese, or maybe the mayans, or possibly the incas, or even the egyptians, or Maybe even quite possibly and probably the Atlanteans!

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38 minutes ago, HebaruSan said:

I was disappointed that the change wasn't apparent to me with the naked eye. I glance up at Orion fairly often, but I guess I don't remember it in that much detail.

It should look about the same as Rigel, but right now it's about the same as Bellatrix.

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2 hours ago, kerbiloid said:
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I live in a city. What are those "stars" you're talking about?

 

I have read that stars are light emitting huge objects at crazy distances. That book told also, that one of them are very much closer than others and understood that it is visually very noticeable in those southern countries where thick cloud layers does not always block visibility, especially when something interesting happens on sky. One friend traveled once to Spain and saw it. It was very nice, light, warm, etc. Astrophysicists call it "Sun".

Greetings from Finland.

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I've been watching the AAVSO data on a daily basis for the past couple of weeks. Part of the problem is that the only thing we're getting live update on is volunteers contributing measurements made with amateur equipment. Some of these people are by no measure amateurs themselves, and they're using high grade amateur equipment, but even then, there's only so much you can do with a telescope sitting in your backyard. As a result, data sets vary by location, weather, and who's been taking the data. But if you plot any single observer, you can see that the trend is still going, if possibly slowing down a bit. We'll get nice, clean data on all of this, I'm sure, but it will probably be in a few months, once papers with results start rolling out. For now, we have to keep wondering how low can it go!

And yeah, while the odds of anything visually spectacular happening any time soon are absolutely minimal, I've been checking up on Fermilab's Nova for any signs of a supernova. Seen some interesting triggers fire, but nothing remotely resembling a supernova within our galaxy. And yeah, neutrino detectors will give us several hours of warning, and it will probably be all over news and social media if it explodes, so you can stop going outside and looking every hour. :P

 

10 hours ago, Wjolcz said:

It's been at about 38-37% of its usual brightness for a couple of past days. Today it's 34%

Unless that's an error.

Not an error. It just depends on how you bin the data and compute the averages. The continuing dimming attracted new contributors, so the AAVSO data is messier than it has been, and there have been a few points that are way too low, as well as some unusually high ones. If you look at error bar on that last point, it falls well within the trend. The brightness is still roughly exponentially decaying in visual band.

Edited by K^2
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I get a good view of Orion every time I go up the stairs to my apartment coming back from work this time of year, and it's been clear almost every night for the past couple of weeks. So I can't help trying to guess if Betelgeuse  looks dimmer than Bellatrix or not. So I'm not the one to judge. 

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Possibly Larry Niven's best work is the "Mote in God's Eye" and sequal "The Gripping Hand", with cowriter Jerry Pournelle.  It's in Jerry's universe of alt-physics where stargates allow instant travel between stars.  A red giant star called God's Eye is similar to Betelgeuse with a stargate in the throbbing periphery of the star.  Ships with energy shields have to fly inside the star, to use the gate.

I don't normally appreciate sci-fi with alt-physics.  But the aliens and main plot in this story is so good, it's one of my all time favorites.  Audiobooks are on youtube.

 

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So, i took a look. Moon is nearly full, so it's not a perfect night for stargazing. Still, Betelgeuse was noticeably dimmer than Rigel.

Which made me think...

When Betelgeuse finally pops, what will astronomers do? Neutron star that will be most probable remnant of supernova, can't possibly keep the designation of Alpha Orionis. Will all the stars in the constellation be reassigned? With Rigel becoming new Alpha, Bellatrix new Beta etc.

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50 minutes ago, farmerben said:

Possibly Larry Niven's best work is the "Mote in God's Eye" and sequal "The Gripping Hand", with cowriter Jerry Pournelle.  It's in Jerry's universe of alt-physics where stargates allow instant travel between stars.  A red giant star called God's Eye is similar to Betelgeuse with a stargate in the throbbing periphery of the star.  Ships with energy shields have to fly inside the star, to use the gate.

I don't normally appreciate sci-fi with alt-physics.  But the aliens and main plot in this story is so good, it's one of my all time favorites.  Audiobooks are on youtube.

Maybe more relevant is Niven's story "Inconstant Moon".

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we had some nice weather last month, and by nice i mean absolutely fridged. as the sky tends to clear when its really cold out. you could see the stars, but if you look too long your eyeballs would freeze in place. then it warmed up and started snowing. even in this little rural alaskan town there is still enough light pollution to be problem, but go 10 miles out of city limits and you get a good view. 

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5 hours ago, Scotius said:

When Betelgeuse finally pops, what will astronomers do? Neutron star that will be most probable remnant of supernova, can't possibly keep the designation of Alpha Orionis. Will all the stars in the constellation be reassigned? With Rigel becoming new Alpha, Bellatrix new Beta etc.

By that time, (up to 100 ky from now) the stars are likely to have drifted significantly. The group we call Orion will look at least a little wacky when trying to pick out the figure of a man. My guess is the Intergalactic Astronomical Union will be 'cleaning up' a lot of lines, borders, and designations around that time anyway.

Of course, if it happens now...My guess is that Rigel takes the crown, the neutron star stays Betelgeuse but gets a typical neutron star designation, and the new nebula gets a brand new name.

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They won't rename the Greek letter designations of the stars in Orion if Betelgeuse explodes. The rule that the stars of a constellation are lettered in order of brightness is not true for all constellations anyway. See Ursa Major, where the Greek letters were assigned in the order the stars appear in the Big Dipper.

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